The Crystal Star
By Vonda N. McIntyre
14 years after ANH

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The Crystal Star kicks off with Princess Leia discovering that her three children have been kidnapped. The twins Jaina and Jacen, now 5 years old, and little Anakin, now 3 and a half, had been accompanying their mother, Chewbacca, and R2D2 on a diplomatic tour of some minor planets when they are suddenly abducted, and Leia senses an aura of darkside energy at work in the children's disappearance. Naturally, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2D2 set out immediately to find the kids, taking on the disguise of bounty hunters to help confuse anyone standing to gain from such a famous family's distress.

Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and C3P0, meanwhile, are investigating a cryptic report of lost Jedi on the man-made planetoid Crseih Station. The planetoid happens to be "parked" at a dying star rapidly being sucked into a black hole, the star turning to crystal…hence the book's title…as the star swirls into the vortex of the black hole. All manner of communications interference and Force disturbances surround the strange goings-on at Crseih, effectively cutting Han and Luke off from Leia, and upsettingly obstructing Luke's link to the Force itself.

On a third playing stage, the Solo children, interred by a Force-strong former Imperial enforcer, work to escape their captor, and to liberate the other children who have all been imprisoned as part of their captor's twisted plan to restore the Empire with this man, Hethrir, as its ruler.

And somehow, everything connects back to a cult on Crseih Station, and the leader of that cult, a mysterious entity called Waru, who may have the power over life and death for those who follow him, and maybe even for the galaxy as a whole.



The Crystal Star reads more like a children's book than most of the Star Wars books actually targeted at kids. There is something oddly stilted about author Vonda N. McIntyre's writing in this book, and the vocabulary seems more limited and "dumbed-down" than any of the Young Jedi Knights or Jedi Apprentice novels. There is also a tremendous amount of rationalization on the part of all the players as they attempt to justify absurd gaps in logic and long stretches of unmotivated behavior. Almost every plot point requires heaping helpings of suspension of disbelief: no one notifies anyone of anything and everyone avoids questioning their traveling companions when a simple answer might provide the needed clarification for huge looming problems. (And yes, the Force and communications distortions interfering with everything at Crseih Station are valid, but does this proscribe Leia from contacting Coruscant? She's the President of the New Republic, for Pete's sake! Shouldn't she let someone know that the children of the head of the government are in danger, and that that same government head is now gallivanting around the nether parts of the galaxy looking for them?)

And that standard bug-a-boo looms large here…character voice accuracy. There are glimmers of the "true" Han, Luke, and Leia, but mostly our film heroes are portrayed as extremes of their superficials. Leia is hysterical and seems to be on a hormonal roller coaster through most of the book, Han is predominantly a childish buffoon, and Luke, poor dear, is a whiny mope. Surprisingly, it is the children that come across best, and their part of the story is the most enjoyable. Maybe it's because the childlike verbiage, and the simplistic perceptions feel natural when viewed through Jaina Solo's eyes. When those same observations are made by Han, Luke, or Leia, it just seems like bad writing. Too, perhaps the children's previously un-established personae are more palatable than comparisons we are compelled to make with the characters we already have expectations for.

Oddly enough, this is not a completely un-enjoyable book. It's wildly inconsistent, but there is some clever plotting, a few subtle moments, and some fun peripheral personalities. Yes, it has one of the silliest, most pot-boilingly melodramatic climax sequences in all of the EU…Star Wars by way of Lost in Space…but The Crystal Star is not without entertainment value. And unlike really awful SW novels such as Darksaber or Courtship of Princess Leia, The Crystal Star is devoid of condescension. It may be awkward and silly, but its heart and sense of adventure are in the right place. Don't think about it too much, and you'll likely take pleasure from it. 18, 1999 by Karen Ross AKA "Queen of the Dweebs"